Healthy Living – Writing Passion

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Do what you love, follow your passions, make your heart sing. Whatever you call it, it basically comes down to self love, and what do they say makes the world go around? LOVE.

When I follow my passions I am excited to start each day and looking forward to my future. The positive effect is enormous on both my mental and physical state. It is part of HEALTHY LIVING.

Last weekend I indulged in a writing course through the Australian Writers Centre on Creative Writing. Courses are often expensive, but this one was worth every dollar.
I spent 2 days in their Milson’s Point classroom with a group of ten other aspiring writers and Pamela Hart as our teacher. Inspirational, intimate, professional, fun, encouraging are just a few adjectives to describe the weekend.

So what made this weekend so worthwhile, and what did I take away from the teachings:

1. To follow my gut in my writing
⁃ The teacher reassured me to go back to my original novel start.

2. Know your characters = plot
⁃ Work out your characters. This will bring out stories and plots

3. The more complex you make your antagonist the more believable they will be
⁃ Life and people are complex and cardboard characters makes for dull reading

4. Come into scene late , exit scene early
⁃ No need for too much ‘setting the scene’. Often you can cut out bits and go straight to the important part of scene. Same applies to the end. Finish on a high point.

5. Change pace
⁃ Keep pace interesting to continue to captivate the reader. Slow down after fast pace action scenes to provide a breather. Pick up pace after slower descriptive scenes. Escalate pace towards the end.

6. Never summaries an emotional high-point.
⁃ A high-point should end the chapter not drag it out.

7. Main characters journey
⁃ The main character has the biggest internal journey

8. 1st draft – telling story to yourself
⁃ Just write your story without worrying about being perfect enough to show to anyone else. Write to get the story down.

9. Opening of novel/cover/blurb must
⁃ Grab the reader enough to want to keep reading
⁃ A promise to the kind of book it will be
⁃ Provide orientation

10. Structure of novel
⁃ Orientation; set the scene
⁃ 1st turning point; major event in 1st or 2nd chapter
⁃ Complications; events moving the plot along, relative to story
⁃ 2nd turning point; 2/3 into story
⁃ Climax; pace quickens, protagonist must actively be involved.
⁃ Resolution; answers questions from 1st turning point.

11. Write even when inspiration is lacking
⁃ So true, the muse will arrive when we sit down to write

12. Connect with other writers and beta readers a must.
⁃ Have experienced this myself since starting my writing journey. A writer’s life can be lonely, and connecting with other writers is vital for sanity and for learning. This weekend I organised for my class mates to provide me with name and email and sent out a group email to everyone, so we are now all connected.

These are just some of the learnings from the weekend. The teacher covered so much more and provided terrific handouts that will help me in rewriting my current WIP.

The weekend gave me confidence in my writing and in the next step. The learnings I took away are invaluable. Part of me wished I had done it earlier, but with my novel already done I could also relate to a lot more.

It was absolutely a ten out of ten course and weekend. I was tired and head spinning on Sunday evening, but my heart and soul was full of healthy smiles, and I now have a certificate to add to my collection of learnings.

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Healthy Living – How to deal with failure

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Most of us want to be healthy and enjoy optimal living. But we are all humans and have to accept that sometimes we fail for whatever reason.

As you know a few weeks back I started blogging about my intention to living as healthy as possible. Well I have failed! I did tell you I would blog about both my successes and my failures. I knew there would be a few.

So where did I fail?

Movement

I totally stopped my morning yoga all of last week. My weekend trip to Katoomba followed by the start of our daylight saving just threw out my routine and energy level. That extra half hour of sleep in the morning seemed more important than my yoga routine. But I am back again this week so all is well.

Heathy Eating

Totally out of character I was driving home from work Monday night and a sudden craving for chips came over me. So I popped into a fast food place and ordered not only chips but also a hamburger. I can’t remember when I last did that, but I did enjoy it.

How to deal with failures

I have decided I am not going to heat myself up about either failures. We will fail in life, but it is how we react and deal with it that matters.

  1. Accepting our shortcoming, which often makes us more endearing, can turn our failures into successes long term.
  2. Accepting and moving on with new and stronger intentions to do better will only help us.
  3. Realising that to fail means at least we have tried and that in itself is a success.
  4. Focusing on the successes we have had in other areas and give ourselves extra pats for these.
  5. Staying positive and not stress about it, as stress is often our biggest health killer

So for me it is onwards and upwards. I am determined to continue my pursuit of a healthier life.

Love to hear how you have dealt with failures in your life. Feel free to comment.

Healthy Living – Mushroom Lentil Dinner

Sometimes throwing together what your imagination comes up with makes the best meals. Sometimes also disasters.

Tonight turned out really delicious, so I am sharing it with you.

Fry onions and garlic till soft.

Add large cut up mushrooms and cook, moisten with water if needed.

Add brown lentils, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer under lid for fifteen minutes

Par boil cauliflower then mix into mushroom mixture

Continue simmering another five minutes.

Add dry parmesan into mixture, serve and top with shaved fresh parmesan.

Delicious, healthy and filling

Bon appetit!

Healthy Living – Weekend Fun

On my way

This weekend is about doing what I love; to read, write and take photos.

I am on the train to Katoomba to take part in a writing workshop, The Art of the Sentence, run at Varuna Writers House by the talented author Michelle de Kretser. It runs for four hours this afternoon and I will stay overnight. It is my weekend away from the rat race. Tomorrow I can indulge in photography. Katoomba is in the Blue Mountains and a stunning place for getting interesting snaps.

My stress level is reducing the further away from the city I travel. The landscape is changing from sky scrapers to trees reaching for the sky. The heavy clouds emanate calm and serenity. Like an old nurturing blanket covering the world.

I am glad I caught the train. I love how I can read and write on the train and let someone else worry about driving the train.

Recently started a novel by a fellow twitter friend Joanna Nell called The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Village. Love it so far. Joanna’s descriptions of the old folks in the village is so real. She makes me laugh out loud and want to cry at the same time.

Back to more reading. I will continue this post later this weekend once I am in Katoomba.

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Saturday Writing Workshop

I walked to the Varuna Writers House on the outskirts of town. The walk consisted of a number of steep hills, but the scenery of old stone houses and flower laden gardens kept me entertained.

Varuna House itself is astounding. A winding dirt road and tall trees hides this gorgeous gem; a colourful old stone house set in a well kept but natural looking cottage style garden. You wish to linger. To just be. You can check out their website here

http://www.varuna.com.au

Veechi Stuart, the Executive Director of Varuna House, came out to welcome me in the front garden and led me into their afternoon tea area as I was early. Her friendly and mild manner made me welcome and at ease straight away. Not unlike visiting a family home.

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The workshop was run by Michelle de Kretser, an editor and author of many novels for which she has received awards, latest being The Life to Come which received the Miles Franklin Award.

It was Michelle’s first workshop and it made everyone at ease. We were beginners, even the teacher. Michelle ran an excellent workshop over the four hours presenting her knowledge, making us question, leading us in the right direction and providing us with several great tools to go away and revisit our writing.

The main part I took away from my experience was:

  • I have so much more to learn
  • Every word/sentence is optional, unless it is essential
  • Review every verb and make sure they are strong
  • To finish a sentence on a monosyllable strengthens it.
  • Avoid repeat words
  • Mix up sentence length
  • Remove yourself from the story and just review each sentence to make them tighter.
  • Put work aside after each new draft before next edit. Do something else for at least a week.
  • Start one of your edits from the back to avoid fatigue and less work being done on last chapters.

After a short rest in my hotel room I took myself out for dinner at a popular local Italian place called Paladino’s. It was packed, the vibe friendly and the food impressive. Walked back to my hotel room with a full stomach and a smile on my face

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Sunday Photo Time

Just love my little get away weekend. It is amazingly quiet here in Katoomba. My hotel, the Metropole Guesthouse, is near the main part of town, and yet I had the most peaceful night’s sleep. Every time I woke up the silence astounded me. No humdrum of traffic, police cars or drunken Saturday night party goers like in Sydney. I am ready for another day of playing tourist in this lovely mountain town.

Got up early to beat the threatening rain and walked towards Echo Point hoping to take photos. I didn’t make it before the wet weather set in.  Breakfast somewhere cosy and warm tempted me and led me back up the main street to Pomegranate, a cafe known for scrumptious organic food. Indulged in two large coffees and a delicious plate of Eggs Florentine. Figured I had earned it with so much hill walking.

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Despite not making it to any popular view points I got several photos around town. You can see them on my next post

On my train trip back to Sydney I got inspired and wrote my entry into the monthly Furious Fiction competition run by the Australian Writers Centre. Wish me good luck.
In summary I enjoyed every bit of my weekend away. I recommend it. Indulging in what you love doing does wonders for your wellbeing. Go do it.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Healthy Living – When the Student is ready,…..

‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’

An old saying apparently linked to Buddha’s teachings.

In my case it was ‘when the student is ready, the book will appear’

In fact, this book is partly responsible for my new lease on life, and to my plans for this blog. My extra time to reflect while on holidays and when I was sick also helped. Holidays recommended, but not the sickness part.

You are probably curious about the book that inspired me.

Young Mind Young Body by Sue Ziang.

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You can read my review on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30845552-young-mind-young-body

So what has this led to? you probably ask.

To me wanting to live my life indulging in my passions ,and to improve my health by eating nourishing good food, be mindful of my thinking and include as much movement into my daily routine. 

Nothing new really. I have always been interested in healthy living, but sometimes life takes over, and your priorities shift you away from what is really important.

For a while I have been “looking” for something. Not sure what or where I wanted to go now that I am in the ‘mature’ part of my life. A number of changes and challenges along the way these last couple of years somehow made me feel a bit lost. Not particularly happy about heading into my 60th, but accepting that there was nothing I could do to change it. I knew I wanted my passion of writing and photography to continue to be part of my life, but to what extent. I also wanted to find the joy in maturing. I knew without joy my life would just become a downward slide. I knew that was not what I wanted. I am by nature a positive person, but like everyone have my doubts and my bad days. But I wanted to make sure my good days from now on far outweighed my bad.

I have been reviewing books for Booktasters.com for a little while now, and when I saw this book, I somehow knew I had to read it.

So here I am. Looking forward to a healthier and exciting future. I feel a strong need to document this in my blog, my successes, my failures, my favourite recipes,  in the hope it will inspire even just one person. Or at least make some of you smile. I hope you will come along and share it with me.

So what have I done so far?

Natural Foods

When I visited my daughter in the US, the availability of healthy organic food at a reasonable cost impressed me. We ate a lot of vegetarian food as her partner is vegetarian, and I felt so much better.

Since returning I have cut back on my meat consumption. If fact I have only had fish once and no other meat. I feel less bloated and lethargic.

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I have also signed up for a newsletter with an Australian organic food store called Flannerys Wholefoods Organic Market, and yesterday I visited our local store. I can’t guarantee I will only eat organic as it is so much more expensive in Australia, but I look forward to at least include it in my diet whenever possible.

Reducing Waste

These amazing food wraps are made from beeswax and also made it into my shopping basket at Flannerys. Reusable and such  a great concept. Anything to minimise our footprint.

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Movement

It’s been a slow start due to being sick, but I have started my morning yoga sessions again. I love this session on UTUBE ‘ Easy Yoga For Beginners – Full Body Gentle Flow’ by Boho Beautiful

Now that spring is here the days will be longer and I plan to make walking a regular feature in my week.

Passions

Booked myself into two writing workshops/courses.

Next weekend I am heading to Katoomba for an afternoon workshop at Varuna Writers House, The Art of the Sentence run by Michelle Kretser. I am catching the train and staying the night in an old guesthouse. Looking forward to my weekend away and to some intense writing.

Later this month I am booked into a weekend course on Creative Writing at the Australian Writers Centre. Hoping to improve my craft and come out blazing and ready for NaNoWriMo.

Healthy Mind

My Daily Positive Thoughts will continue as I strongly believe in the benefits of finding positives in our everyday. But  I have also realised that at times in life we all need extra help to get our thoughts sorted. We forget how to love ourselves and unless we relearn how to, we cannot love others. So I have booked in for some regular counselling to improve the health of my mind. Our thoughts affect our overall health in such a huge way, and unless we keep it healthy we can eat the right food and exercise till the cows come home, but our mind will let us down. Accepting we need help is the first step in improving.

So fasten your seatbelt and come along on what might be a bumpy ride as I learn, but hopefully an enjoyable ride. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Please leave any comments and share your own stories.

The Locked Door

Their gaze met across the busy pub. He was dressed in blue jeans, t-shirt and a trendy jacket. He had a broody air about him, but it was his intense dark amber eyes that got her attention.

Janice was ready to flirt with a man again for the first time since the incident. With a new sense of braveness she lifted her wineglass with a smile waiting for his response. It was slow at first, just the corners of his lips moving up ever so slowly. He brought up his glass in return and nodded his head.

Janice returned her attention to her girlfriends, but couldn’t stop thinking about the stranger across the room. She deliberately didn’t turn her face, but his stare burnt into her back.

‘Where are you Janice?’ her friend Sue asked.

“Oh, I was just daydreaming” Janice tried to deflect.

“No you’re not. You have that air about you. Good to see you showing an interest again. So who is he?” Sue kept pressing her eyes full of mischief and too much wine.

“You are such a stickybeak Sue. But ok, tell me if the guy in the opposite corner, blue jeans white t-shirt, is looking in my direction?” Janice asked her group of friends.

The whole group of girls turned to gawk at the same time much to Janice’s embarrassment. She laughed nervously.

“You are so obvious. You might as well just go and ask him’

“He is definitely looking your way Janice.” Sue exclaimed and with her usual determination and spontaneity got up and walked to the man’s table, returning a minute later with the guy in tow.

“This is Dan. He is by himself, so I invited him across to join us,” Sue said giving Janice a cheeky smile.

Sue did the introductions leaving Janice to last and motioned Dan to sit next to her.

Janice wondered if they had met before, but couldn’t pin point where. His eyes drew her in and made her anxious at the same time. But Janice enjoyed the sense of being alive again, ignored the warning signs and decided tonight she would take the next step.

When the pub closed up Janice accepted to head back to Dan’s place only a few blocks away. The rest of the girls said their goodbyes with lots of winks and smiles.

Dan’s apartment was roomy and neat. It felt familiar. Her heart started pounding as she watched Dan come across the room with a glass of wine. His eyes looked intense. Like burning amber. He brought his arms around her. She was pinned by his embrace. It was forceful and hard. In that moment Janice remembered. The attacker, the body against her, the pain. The same intense fire in Dan’s eyes. Just like the night 2 years ago.

Janice panicked and ran through the apartment to escape. The door was locked.

Thanks Giving Dinner

Short story written for competition. Only prompt was this picture had to be the opening scene. Didn’t win , but I loved writing the story

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‘Is that a chip?’ Moira thinks out loud leaning across to pick up the sparkling wine glass. The table is set with luxurious silver ware, sparkling glasses and perfume rich flowers from the garden. Ready for her distinguished guests.

‘Oh damn, I am down to the last of my mother’s best set. Must be more careful when I clean them. I cannot replace them,’ Moira thinks to herself.

Dinner is ready and the smell of roast turkey with all the trimmings is wafting from the kitchen.

‘Hope there is enough this year for all of us. They come hungry and dig in like it’s their last meal. For some it may be,’ Moira fights back a lonely tear making its way down her cheek.

‘Must be happy and grateful tonight. It is Thanksgiving Day’ She reminds herself and puts on some cheery music, trying to fight back the memory of 3 years back.

The doorbell rings twice and Moira opens to greet all her guests. They come together all dressed in their best Sunday suits and dresses.

‘Thank you for inviting us again Moira. How have you been?’ Frank asks as he leads the group into Moira’s dining room. His face weather-beaten and red from too much alcohol over the years and his suit worn and frayed at the ends.

Moira smiles without answering. They all know.

‘So good to see you all’ Moira announces noticing Lily admiring the silverware running her finger across the smooth lines. Lily is wearing a long 70s dress in silver herself. Her unwashed hair has been brushed. She looks almost attractive if not for the dark sunken eyes and bruises on her arms.

‘What’s for dinner Moira?’ Tom asks as he sits himself next to Moira. The hungry one, Tom is. Also the youngest at barely 24. He joined in the annual dinner last year invited by Tammy after Dave left the city.

‘Just vanished one day,’ Tammy told them all ‘no farewell, just took his few belongings and left,’

‘We are going to have Roast Turkey Tom, hope you all like it. I have tried a new stuffing this year,’ Moira tells them all.

‘I liked the old stuffing’ Gary quips up looking frightened. He doesn’t like change. Has never moved from his tiny place in the city.

‘You will love this one too Gary’ Moira reassures him patting his shoulder as she gets up.

‘Tammy and Tom, please help me,’

The young couple jump up eager to help, hoping to grab a morsel before the others.

Trays of food is brought in and placed on the table to the hum of appreciative noises. Moira looks at her guests; their eyes shining and their mouths eagerly smiling in anticipation.

Her rich and colourful family from the city streets gracing her home once again. They are her family now, her only family. They all help each other on this often lonely Thanksgiving evening.

‘Thank you all for joining me; enjoy your dinner,’